Neon Greens, a new, quick-service salad concept from St. Louis native Josh Smith, is set to open in the historic Grove neighborhood of St. Louis this summer at 4176 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, MO, 63110. Neon Greens is the first of its kind to grow its own leaf lettuce on-site using vertical farms, with a focus on supreme quality to give guests the best salad they’ve ever had – from seed to leaf to plate. In addition to an interior renovation of the primary building (in the former Rise Coffee House space), a 1,200 square-foot indoor agricultural facility with integrated outdoor dining is being constructed next door to grow most of the restaurant’s greens on-site.
Superior in taste and nutrition, the emphasis of each salad is all about the main ingredient —the greens. Neon Greens is working with Freight Farms, an agriculture technology company based in Boston, MA, to source its hydroponic container farms – with the ability to grow fresh food 365 days a year. “We are honored to partner with Neon Greens to provide the ultimate farm-to-table experience. Customers will get to experience craft salads with incredible freshness and flavor,” says CEO of Freight Farms, Rick Vanzura.
Neon Greens’ hydroponic plots will yield some of the crispiest, tastiest lettuce and herbs possible that customers will enjoy immediately after harvest. Seasonal produce not grown in the restaurant’s greenhouse will be sourced from small local farms.
“This concept came from a pandemic hobby where I found that the hydroponic greens I had grown myself offered significantly better flavor than anything I could get at the store,” says owner Josh Smith. “Our greens are cut to order and cultivated in a fraction of the time of standard produce. The salads are customized with local ingredients that flourish with the seasons – meaning quality nutrition for us, and better health for our planet. The quality of Neon Greens is greatly impacted by the hyper-freshness of our produce.”
While spending the early days of the pandemic in a small cabin in the Northeast, and seeing supply chains disrupted in real time, Josh started thinking about where his food was coming from and what might happen to its availability. He decided to grow his own produce and began with a small hydroponic growing kit. One month later, Josh had purchased industrial farming equipment and set up a grow house with 100+ plants, growing everything from kale and lettuce to cucumbers and peppers. Josh quickly realized that fresh, homegrown produce tastes far superior to the greens available in our grocery stores, and began developing the idea for Neon Greens as a way to provide others with the freshest salads possible.
Neon Greens will grow six acres of produce on-site and the menu will feature global flavors with local produce and will rotate depending on what’s available seasonally and locally, as well as in the restaurant’s internal crop rotation. “I want to explore herbs and greens that we aren’t used to seeing in salads in the Midwest, like Mizuna, Shiso, and Callaloo”. Guests will be able to choose from a variety of chef curated salad recipes or can build their own salad choosing which greens, toppings and dressing they prefer. In addition to salads, offerings will include soups, fresh-baked breads and soft-serve ice cream infused with herbs grown on site.
All salads will be crafted with cut-to-order greens grown at the restaurant, introducing guests to a new definition of how delicious produce can be. From the moment customers walk into the restaurant, they become part of a story—observing where lettuce is grown and seeing it make its way into their salad. At Neon Greens, guests are immersed in the dining experience from seed to leaf to plate.